With all the travelling around, it became pretty plain that some of the things we were looking at just needed to be shot as a panorama. There was simply no other way to capture the magnitude of it. Take, for example, the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley – only this panorama could really do it justice. The real question is how to stitch together the ten or more digital photos that make up the image without getting ugly seams all over the place.
Well, it turned out there’s two ways. The free and complex way and the simpler but more costly way. Starting with the simpler way – just get Autopano Pro. Point it at a directory full of images and it pretty much does the rest for you, finding the panoramas, stitching them together and making a pretty JPEG output. Nothing much more to describe, it just works. It is $120 for the software though, which seems a little steep.
Now, the free and more complex way involves a few separate items:
- PTStitcher – the core transformation engine
- Hugin – the front end that drives everything else
- Enblend – the best blending program to put all the transformed pictures together
- Autopano – the program that finds the panoramas
Now, run autopano from the command line inside the directory that you have all your images in. It runs through and finds the panoramas for you and creates project files that Hugin can load up.
For each project file in Hugin, play with the projections until you find something you like, then tell it to render the output with PTStitcher (not nano), using the lighting correction and all the other fancy bells and whistles with the output as multiple TIFF files.
Lastly, point Enblend at the TIFF files that were created (it’s a command line program again) and it will splice these files together to make a nice TIFF output which you can then convert to a jpeg using whatever image manipulation program you choose.
All mixed together, it does an amazingly good job. In any case, I’ve been having lots of fun now the limits of the small angle lens on my digital camera can be overcome to produce massive wide angle panoramas without too much effort on my part. Hope you enjoy some of the new panoramas in the November parts of my gallery.